Supernatural: Something Wicked
May 30, 2021 8:58 AM - Season 1, Episode 18 - Subscribe

Dean gets a second chance to right a wrong from his past when the brothers get a mysterious tip from their father about a case they'd worked years ago, but left unfinished after Sam was nearly killed by the creature.
posted by orange swan (5 comments total)
Sam: Dude, dude, I am not using this ID!
Dean: Why not?
Sam: Because it says "Bikini Inspector" on it!

Motel owner's young son Michael: [to Dean, who has asked for a room] King or two queens?
Dean: Two queens.
Michael: [glances at Sam outside the window, snorts, muttering under his breath] Yeah, I bet.
Dean: What'd you say?
Michael: Nice car.

That shtriga was one of the freakiest things the show ever came up with.

The actors who played young Dean and little Sam did very well at capturing the affect the adult actors playing the same parts have. Frustrated young Dean slapped a bowl and a box of Lucky Charms on the table in front of Sam in very much the same way as a frustrated adult Dean would have, and he even walked like him.

Sixteen or seventeen years before the events of this episode, Dean would have been eleven or ten, and Sam seven or six. They were far too young to be left alone in a motel room for days on end. John Winchester would have been very likely to have child protective services called on his ass at some point in their childhood.

The incident with Sam nearly getting murdered by the shtriga because Dean left him in the motel room alone while he went to play a video game sheds light on why Dean regards his father's word as law: he has been traumatized what happens when he doesn't. Although... I think that shtriga would have attacked Sam even if Dean had remained in the room the entire time, and he'd been unlikely to have been able to kill it, so he carried far more guilt over that incident than he should have.  
posted by orange swan at 9:04 AM on May 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

I swear somebody will eventually write (or perhaps has already written) a thesis on motel-room design and decoration in Supernatural.

I don't know what brief the set designers were given, but I get the feeling it was something like: "We're sorry we make you hang up spiderwebs in creepy cabins and cover construction sites with fake dead bodies. As a reward, have fun with decorating the motel rooms the boys stay in. Go nuts! You want to do an Elvis theme? We're here for it. Bowling pins on sticks? Sure. Sounds great! Fish on sticks--well, you seem to like putting things, on sticks, but if that's what floats your boat, you do you! Fake geraniums in a planter inside the room--well okay. I didn't think Tyrolean windows boxes was ever really an American motel aesthetic, but it sounds like fun. Groovy wallpaper and colour schemes the 1970s wouldn't even approve of? Great, as long as it looks good on video. Heavy, antique wooden furniture? Why not? Mudflap-girl silhouettes? Are you sure? Okay, fine, sounds like it might be cool."

(Okay, I'll admit most of these examples comes from later seasons, but it wasn't something I really started to register until I got into watching this show for a bit. At this point, I'm just hitting season three, so the tiny details about later season episodes are clearer in my head, but I do know that this is about the point where I started to really notice just how bizarre the motels are decorated. The bowling pins in the flashback motel caught my attention, but it was the sliver, shiny Elvis room (don't remember which episode that was) that was probably the first to leave a really strong impression.
posted by sardonyx at 11:35 AM on May 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

I should probably add that this was a really strong and compelling episode. Coming into the show pretty cold, I would have never really suspected that Dean would be good with kids, or care about them as much as he does. It's a nice bit of character depth that makes complete sense in light of his history, but it also seems to go against his tough, outward personality. It's one of those dichotomies that make him really feel like a fully realized and fleshed-out person rather that the stock, cartoonish character he could have so easily been.
posted by sardonyx at 11:42 AM on May 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

I really love the sets (kind of a weird thing to enjoy about a netlet drama, but ah well) and the motels, even the anonymous ones, are A++.

Sometimes it goes a little overboard for my taste (this episode kind of does for me, tbh), but Dean being a) really good with kids and b) a caregiver in general was a really good choice. Much as I dig the leather jacket and muscle car and all, he could conceivably make sense as a character without them, but not without that. As much as it was scary, overwhelming, and unfair as a kid to make sure his brother doesn't starve, there are a bunch of times later on as adults when Dean will feed Sam to calm himself down.
posted by jameaterblues at 8:26 AM on May 31, 2021

I noticed that when little Sam didn't want the bowl of "Scabetti O's", young Dean dumped the contents of the bowl in the trash. He surely wouldn't have done that if he and Sam didn't have enough food, or if he was at all worried about them running out of food. I think John would have seen to it that his sons had a sufficient amount of food and that they weren't actually going hungry, even though it wasn't good quality food at all.

Dean spending his childhood having to keep his brother and himself fed with crap food would still have had an impact on his relationship towards food, of course.
posted by orange swan at 8:37 AM on May 31, 2021

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